UNC files amicus brief to Supreme Court in support of diversity in admissions

UNC-Chapel Hill filed an amicus “friend of the court” brief on August 9, 2012, in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, a case involving the consideration of race in college admissions. UNC is one of the first of about 10 universities expected to file briefs with the court, which will hear oral arguments in October.

Prepared by School of Law faculty members and the Office of University Counsel, the 27-page brief argues, among other things, that UNC and other public universities have a compelling state interest in preparing students for a diverse society and assuring a pool of strong state leaders by admitting undergraduates from every background.

A requirement to adopt a “race-neutral” admissions policy would weaken the quality of future classes, exclude strong candidates and undermine attempts to create a diverse campus, the authors of the brief write.

The brief also cites supporting evidence of the importance of diversity in education from the recently concluded Educational Diversity Project, a 10-year multidisciplinary research study conducted by four professors, including two Carolina faculty members. Results of the study, which focused on law school experiences, will be published in the summer issue of “Rutgers Race & the Law Review” and are available at Social Science Research Network.

The researchers found that many observed racial differences among students contribute to learning because differences foster richer interactions and positive educational outcomes that benefit students, institutions and society. This exposure to a diversity of viewpoints prepares the students to be better lawyers, making them more “culturally competent.”

Stephen Farmer, vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions at UNC, is following the case extremely closely, because it could affect the nuanced, multifaceted process the University uses in selecting the students for its incoming class.

“Our students need to study alongside classmates from all backgrounds,” Farmer said. “The more they learn from the experiences and perspectives of others, the better they’ll be able to face the challenges of a changing and increasingly diverse world, and to lead others to face those challenges.”

See a PDF of the amicus brief.

Published August 10, 2012.